About LDN

Letters to the Editor

Lincoln Daily News welcomes letters of appreciation, information and opinion on matters pertaining to the community. 
Controversial issues:
As a community we need to be able to talk openly about matters that affect the quality of our lives. The most effective and least offensive manner to get your point across is to stick to the issue and refrain from commenting on another person's opinion. Letters that deviate from focusing on the issue may be rejected or edited and marked as such.

Submit a letter to the editor online

You may also send your letters by email to  ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com

or by U.S. postal mail:

Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL  62656

Letters must include the writer's name, telephone number, and postal address or email address (we will not publish address or phone number information). Lincoln Daily News reserves the right to edit letters to reduce their size or to correct obvious errors. Lincoln Daily News reserves the right to reject any letter for any reason. Lincoln Daily News will publish as many acceptable letters as space allows.

Change in zoning law could hurt mining development

Send a link to a friend 

To the editor:

(Editor's note: One line was redacted from this letter. The line provided no additional or different information.)

Last year my sister and I concluded successful discussions with Hanson Material Services Co. for expansion of limestone mining operations near the Rocky Ford area of Logan County, where such mining has been conducted by our family and its successors since the mid-1930s.

Hanson is part of a multinational company that conducts mining operations throughout virtually the entire world. The limestone quarry in Logan County began in the 1930s and was purchased by Hanson in the early 1980s. Travel west on Fifth Street for about 4 miles and you will see the beautiful lakes and wildlife area of about 700 acres created by those mining operations. To my knowledge there has never been a significant dispute between the mine operators and people residing near the quarry; my family operated the limestone mine from the mid-1930s through mid-1970s.

My sister and I, with assistance from Hanson, applied to Logan County officials for modification of zoning of our land so the project could proceed. At least two similar rezoning applications for land in the same area had been approved by Logan County officials in the past. Our application, however, was objected to by three families.

Some objectors sought imposition of conditions upon us or Hanson not permitted by law. One objector family demanded their farmstead be purchased from them for a price far exceeding its cost and about seven times the amount at which the Logan County tax assessor previously valued the property at the objectors' request.

Our state's attorney advised county officials of the illegality of imposing such conditions, but the demands continued, and a great deal of political pressure was exerted upon our local officials to impose such conditions or, failing that, deny the rezoning request. Apparently, at least one objecting family sought and obtained political intervention by a congressman and a state representative to support their requests for improper imposition of financial payment conditions.

Despite those efforts and exercise of extreme political pressure from many sources, on Dec. 18, 2012, the Logan County Board properly and courageously approved the rezoning by a 10-1 vote, with one member absent.

On March 18, 2013, the last day allowed by law, Stephen and Pamela Schreiner appealed that decision to the Circuit Court, a case now pending, which obviously delays the much-needed mining project.

During the rezoning process Hanson representatives attended meetings, answered questions and continued negotiating a mining agreement with me. A state mining permit will not issue unless the land to which the permit relates is zoned to allow mining (extraction) activities. During that proceeding I presented several hundred pages of scientific studies, favorable sworn affidavits from people residing for years near the Hanson quarry, plus testimony and exhibits presented by qualified geologists and engineers who studied and analyzed the area at considerable expense to my sister and me.

In my opinion, the objectors merely utilized smoke, mirrors, political pressure tactics and emotional arguments, which demonstrated they had not properly investigated the issues.

[to top of second column in this letter]

Hanson met with the objectors, offering to remediate virtually all cosmetic, noise, dust, water and other issues, but still the financial demands continued. Coupled with a township demand for expensive roadway improvements, the delay, extreme political pressure, pending zoning ordinance amendment and actions of the objectors convinced Hanson to leave Logan County because of its unfavorable business environment. As a consequence Logan County lost an employee payroll of approximately $1,000,000 per year, several miners lost their jobs and employment benefits, and local residents, farmers, builders, government entities will continue to pay much higher prices for needed limestone because we have no local mine.

I firmly believe Hanson was purposefully chased out of Logan County at the expense of its citizens.

The now proposed amendment to the Logan County Zoning Ordinance would completely eliminate mining (extraction) as a zoning classification for any land in Logan County, making extraction a "special use" on land already zoned for agricultural purposes and requiring us to seek a "special use permit" even though the land is now zoned for mining.

This amendment, promoted by board member Kevin Bateman, is very problematic legally, will further discourage business development and hurt the local economy. Mr. Bateman even recently declared there is no need to wait for the state's attorney to review and advise the board concerning legality of the proposed amendment.

Since there are about 17 years of minable stone reserves under the already rezoned land, one must wonder: "Why is Mr. Bateman in such a hurry?"

I believe the public should be given an honest answer to that question. The legal implications of this proposal are substantial and helped drive Hanson out of Logan County. Since our local, state and federal representatives should promote the economic welfare of this county, how can they do so by delaying or stopping the stone quarry we seek for Logan County or changing laws to continue driving businesses from Logan County?

The zoning amendment issue is to be again presented and discussed by the Logan County Zoning Committee on Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. That meeting will be held in the Blue Room at the Logan County Safety Complex at 911 Pekin St., Lincoln.

If you support quick development of a limestone quarry and the economic benefits it will provide for the citizens of Logan County, I urge you to attend that meeting to express that support. You may call the county board office (217-732-6400) and request to be listed as a speaker on the meeting agenda.

I also urge you to contact your county board representatives to complain about the proposed change of the zoning ordinance. The proposal is counterproductive to business development efforts in Logan County.

It is time for honesty and transparency in local government. Lincoln and Logan County have been consistently losing businesses and population for many years. If local "backroom politics" and business development policies do not change quickly, then I urge the last person leaving Logan County to please remember to turn out the lights.

Thank you for considering these comments.


Douglas A. Muck

[Posted August 03, 2013]

Click here to send a note to the editor about this letter.


< Recent letters

Back to top